Makuach Maluach didn’t say much over the past four seasons as a starting wing for the UNM Lobos.
He just produced.
On the court and off.
The 6-foot-5 wing from South Sudan who fled the war-torn nation with his mother to Australia at the age of 10 took to social media on Thursday night to announce he has signed with an agent and will pursue a professional playing career overseas — likely back home in Australia.
In July 2017, Maluach took to his Instagram account to announce he’d become a Lobo, writing: “Happy to announce that I’ve signed with the University of New Mexico. Beginning of a new journey. #GOLOBOS.”
Four years, and fewer than a dozen posts on that account later, Maluach made his departure announcement Thursday saying he was signing with Octagon sports agency, a move that precludes his returning to college basketball.
In between, he scored 1,308 points and grabbed 479 rebounds in 121 games in a Lobos uniform — 97 of them starts. He leaves UNM sitting in the No. 17 spot on the program’s all-time scoring list, nestled between No. 16 Kenny Page (1,387 points) and No. 18 Francis Grant (1,282).
But none of those accomplishments on the court were what Maluach considers his top achievement in the United States.
Last week, Maluach was the chosen speaker of honor at a UNM Athletics Department ceremony for Lobo athletics graduates for all sports and said his greatest achievement from the past four years was “telling my mom that I am a college graduate.”
He earned his degree in Business Administration.
Maluach was the unquestioned team leader this past season for a Lobos team that played the entire 2020-21 season out of the state due to COVID-19 restrictions at home. In February, in advance of what would have been his “Senior Night” game had the Lobos been allowed to play home games, Maluach made clear he had the ending of his Lobos career in perspective.
“All my friends and family back home had plans to come (to the United States) and watch my last game, but unfortunately, it’s not gonna happen,” Maluach told the Journal. “But that’s just life sometimes. Sometimes you don’t get what you want and you just have to move on. …
“I was really looking forward to playing in the Pit this year, but obviously we can’t. Life is bigger than game of basketball sometimes and with COVID and everything going on, we’ve got to think about other people.”
While finishing the semester, Maluach had been practicing with new head coach Richard Pitino and the Lobos. The new coach said he would love Maluach to come back and be a Lobo as the NCAA granted all players who played in the 2020-21 season an extra season of eligibility, but it was clear the program was preparing as though the senior’s mind had been made up for some time.
OTHER SENIOR NEWS: While Maluach will move on to the professional phase of his basketball career, two other former Lobo teammates of his will take the NCAA up on the extra year of eligibility, extending their college careers in the NCAA transfer portal.
Senior guard Keith McGee, who left the Lobos in January after announcing he would opt out of the rest of the season, announced this week he was committed to play at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
Former Lobo Vance Jackson, who transferred a year ago to Arkansas but seldom played for the NCAA Tournament participant Razorbacks, announced this week he will transfer again and pursue a masters degree at a yet-to-be-decided school, which will be the fourth in his college basketball career after starting at Connecticut.